Biomass is at the core of the bioeconomy and the demand for it is increasing worldwide as we transition to a low-carbon economy. Biomass is predominantly used for feed and food products (~55% of global biomass available) followed by bioenergy, with only 8% to date used for bio-based materials despite offering an alternative to fossil-derived chemicals.
To promote the development and commercialisation of bio-based materials, an abundance of feedstocks (i.e., sugar, starch, vegetable oil and ethanol) are required. However, this may lead to biodiversity and land use change as potentially more land would be needed to enable the replacement of fossil raw materials, estimated at an additional 2.8 billion tonnes (Bt) Dry Matter (DM) biomass per year, which competes with food and feed production.
To achieve a sizeable and economically feasible bioeconomy, new technologies are therefore needed in order to diversify and deliver processes that can use available, underutilised and more sustainable biomass feedstocks to leave more land available for biodiversity protection and food production, whilst facilitating the substitution of fossil-based resources with bio-based ones.
VALUABLE will focus on the demonstration of a platform non-plant-based biomass valorisation process for the production of yeast oils as a viable substitute for fossil-based and plant-based products (such as palm oil) in applications such as cosmetics, adhesives and resins. More specifically, the VALUABLE process will valorise Aspergillus niger biomass feedstock to demonstrate:
- Techno-economic viability of producing oils as a substitute for fossil based and plant-based products for applications in cosmetics and bio-based chemicals (e.g., resins for coatings) markets.
- Better valorisation of fungal biomass waste streams rich in chitin for the production of non-animal derived chitosan and chitosan oligomers for use in applications such as cosmetics and bio-based chemicals (e.g., adhesives) markets.
Within VALUABLE Megara Resins will demonstrate successful development of alkyd resins from yeast oil and validation of their suitability for surface coating applications which will allow the company to establish potential for replacement of traditional solvent borne alkyd resins from palm oil with waterborne alkyd resins from yeast oil produced from fungal biomass waste.